I'm an established full-time author - willing to answer questions if you have them





I’m not sure what you are referring to. Can you quote the piece that you are responding to?


It depends on the agent. Some have very rigid word count - and it could mean an auto-reject, others have “recommendations” and when you aren’t in that range they may take longer to reply. Bottom line, if your work is too short to be commercially viable, you may want to look at the story being told and what would be required to bring it up to the standard, because that standard is that way for good reason.


Agree with all of this.


That IS NOT conventional. Most want either blank line with no indents or indents with no blank lines.


Well “full time” has nothing to do with it. The two biggest factors in royalties are what is the % based on (List Price or Net income) and what the % is. When talking about ebooks, it also matters whether a book is distributed with “the agency model” or the “wholesale model.”

Let’s look at a $25 hardcover that Amazon is selling at a 20% discount (such that they earn $18.75 on the sale. On print book, publishers sell them to the retailer at a discount (usually 50%) and the author is paid on 10% - 15% of list price (10% for the first 5,000, 12.5% for the next 5,000, and 15% above 10,000. So if that book was the 4,999th copy or lower the breakdown for a traditional published book with the pricing above would be:

  • $6.25 stays with the buyer because Amazon is giving a 25% discount
  • $6.25 stays with Amazon because they bought it from the publisher for $12.50 and they sold it for $18.75
  • $10.00 stays with the publisher (although they have to pay for editing, cover design, printing, warehousing, shipping, and other distribution fees)
  • $2.12 goes to the author (after paying the agent their 85% share)
  • $0.38 goes to the agent who sold the book

Now for an ebook sold in the agency model (which most are these days). The publisher sets the price and Amazon CANNOT discount the book. In this case the publisher generally gets 70% of the price they set. Authors earn 25% of NET (the amount the publisher receives so the breakdown would be as follows:

  • $3.00 - stays with Amazon
  • $5.25 - stays with the publisher - they have little to no distribution costs but they still have to pay for editing and cover design
  • $1.49 - stays with the author (after paying their agent their share)
  • $0.26 - to the agent

Now when going self-publishing if your ebook is priced $2.99 - $9.99 you’ll receive 65% - 70% of list price from the retailer (minus some small distribution costs based on file size. When doing a print book using print-on-demand you’ll earn 60% minus the cost of printing which is based on the number of pages. For a 350 page book printed with KDP that would be $5.05. So if you are selling your book for $15.00 you’d earn: $15 - $6 (distribution fee) - $5.05 printing fee = $3.95.


Standard traditional numbers:

  • hardcover: 10% - 15% of list price (10% first 5,000, 12.5% next 5,000, 15% above 10,000)
  • paperback: 6% - 8% of list price for massmarket paperabacks (escallator at 100,000 copies)
  • trade paperbacks: 7.5% of list price (no escallators)
  • ebooks: 25% of net price (which is usually 70% of the price set by the publisher
  • audiobooks - depends greatly based on how the audio is produced it can be as low as 3.5% and as high as 8.75%

Also, keep in mind you have to decrease all of these by 15% if an agent is involved

While historically it has been that traditional books sell more than self-published, I’m tracking some of my author peers and the self-published authors are showing lower Amazon rankings (indicating higher sales) than my traditional peers. I think some of this is because of KU (something that traditional books aren’t in) and some of this is because they are lower priced ($4.99 - $5.99 being more common these days than the $9.99 - $14.95 for traditional).


When you enjoy writing, there is always a way to sneak in some time for it. Look at what you do each day, and you may find activities like gaming or television watching that you can steal from to write.


I did, thank you. But I’m glad to be home as I can’t write while “on the road.”


ok thanks


Well, now that I think about it, it’s not really a matter of time. It’s a matter of, “I’ve been writing all week for college. Do I even have the energy to write any more?”


Balancing writing with other full-time activities (like work or college) is pretty much the norm. It’s part of why it’s so hard to do the writing gig. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had to do that juggling act, so I don’t have a lot of good advice…other than dropping activities like television watching, Internet surfing, or video games which can take up huge amounts of time. There are even some programs that will “cut you off” from online so you can’t get distracted with what is going on online.


:raising_hand_woman:t2: I have a question!

Sort of related to another thread in this forum, but, what’s your opinion @MichaelJSullivan on publishing on Wattpad then going to an agent?

I want to use Wattpad as a place to build an author platform. I have nothing without it hahaha. At least until I have my first novel published! I have one story on here that I plan to self-publish if an agent doesn’t pick it up (plan to query, and then send to an editor if an agent just won’t want it. It’s kind of niche, and it’s also on Wattpad, so not sure if that kills its chances). I plan to use, let’s call it Book A, as the cornerstone for my official author platform once it’s published and I can enter the world of Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

Where my conundrum begins: I have two other stories, Book B and Book C, that I have started to put on Wattpad, as I value bookclub feedback on Wattpad, and I want to continue the momentum of my fanbase and maybe gather more. I am starting to wonder if I should take them down, or just have the first ten chapters available. Those two books, in my opinion, are better for agents, but won’t be ready for another year or so. And when I publish those, I want an author platform already established. Hence, why I want Book A to be published first, so Book B and Book C can follow it. Do you think it’s wise to keep the other books to no more than 10 chapters? Or is it really going to kill me if I publish the first draft of Book B and Book C on here? I wanted to build a reputation with Book A, B and C on Wattpad so when I went to publish, I already had the “trust” of some readers that my content won’t suck, lol. Also, I would have the ability to have them beta read before they are even ready for beta-reading. I love that method.

Also, to further that thought, when it comes to agents, all three of these books absolutely have series potential. I was planning to use that as my ace up my sleeve, offering the sequel, and in Book A, the sequel and the third book, as first rights. Does that matter? Or does publishing on Wattpad hurt you no matter what? I know a few agents don’t care, but I don’t want to ruin my chances with the majority of agents, as publishing is my ultimate goal.

So I guess a succinct, TL;DR: Does publishing on Wattpad truly hurt your chances with agents, and if it does, does offering the first-rights to the series potential have any leverage? I won’t be taking down Book A until I either have a contract or self-pub, because again, I am fine with self-publishing. But I’d really like to get one book trad-published, and if Book A fails, then I think Book B and C are my tickets. Is it best to limit their chapters to 10 chapter on here, or is it not going to matter too much in the end? I know it’s just your opinion, but it’s one that has value I think!

Agents' thoughts on querying work posted previously on Wattpad

Hi! I was wondering how one would go about self publishing? I’ve been doing a lot of research online but I’m finding it all a bit confusing. As it seems like a whole load of companies, and not to mention distribution. I would love to self publish one of my works one day, but have no idea how to take the first step in the right direction. :confused: Are there any tips you would recommend?


Michael will chime in, I’m sure, but just in case he doesn’t see this for a little while and you’re temped to go with one of these ‘companies’ - don’t! That sounds like vanity publishing, not self publishing. Self publishing you pay nothing for distribution, you simply upload your book to Amazon KDP or Smashwords or Draft to Digital (or to the individual stores) for free.


Think of the basics of self-publishing (remember, you’re both the author and publisher):

  1. You write the novel.
  2. You edit the novel.
  3. You create the novel’s cover.
  4. You create the physical copy, that is, the ebook, print version, etc.
  5. You sell the novel (everything from advertising to pricing to distribution).
  6. You collect payment (and handle returns?).

Do you have to do all those steps by yourself? No. Let’s say you do steps 1–3 and your novel is in a Word docx format. You can upload that along with the cover you made to Amazon’s KDP. They will create the physical copy, put it in their catalog, sell it, and collect payment. Then they’ll keep a small percentage and pay you the rest. Even then, you’ll need to determine the price and do advertising. They handle the distribution.

Now let’s say you don’t have the skills to make the cover. You hire a cover designer to do #3. After all, you’re the publisher and have the responsibility to hire people to do what you can’t do. Even if you have the skills, you may need to buy a commercial license for images to use on the cover. And you may need to pay for editing (#2).

All the steps need to get done. You, as the publisher, decide who does what. But like any employer, you need to pay your employees. Okay, calling Amazon your employee is a stretch, but they’re providing a service and expect to be paid. Think of the people who you hire as contractors.

There are companies offering the services I outlined above. Don’t use them. They are overpriced. They prey on people, telling them they help you self-publish. If you can’t either do the steps above yourself or contract them out, don’t self-publish.


So I’m not entirely sure if this counts. But whenever I read these stories that are published and really well written that I really enjoy, I always notice that they have the most interesting plots. I know that I come up with things they may not and vice versa, but they get their plot across a lot better than I do, and it comes across as really good, so I guess what I’m asking is, what is the process of a published author to really create those stories?


Hey @MichaelJSullivan, when you have a series and you’re choosing traditional publishing how can you explain that it’s a series? I’m in the middle getting things done but what I’m working on is part of a series so I thought I’d ask.


You query the first book and say “It’s a standalone book with series potential.”

If it doesn’t stand alone, you’re making it much harder to be traditionally published.


It ended as a standalone, I’m just working on the online form for the first agent as one part of it is in these exact words “Pitch/Summary/Synopsis” like when they say “Pitch” do they want every detail, or just giving out a vague beginning, middle and end?